Many Republicans are mourning the victory of Mike Huckabee in Iowa and laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of those stupid, bigoted evangelicals. The only problem is that the majority of evangelicals voted for someone else.
While 60% of the caucus goers were evangelical Christians and Huckabee did get the largest percentage of those voters, a majority of evangelical Christians voted for a candidate other than the former Arkansas governor. In fact, almost 20% voted for Mitt Romney and 14% of the non-evangelicals voted for Huckabee.
If you look at the numbers coming out of Iowa, Huckabee won across the board – not just based on identity politics, as some are saying. He grabbed 17% of the independents who voted in the Republican primary (right behind Romney at 19%, they both traveled independent favorable candidates McCain and Paul), 28% of those making over $100,000 (just behind Romney’s 32%). He won all the issues people said were their top ones: illegal immigration, war in Iraq, economy, terrorism. He won the very conservative and somewhat conservative voters and trailed McCain and Romney by 4 points on the moderate voters. He carried every age group.
It seems that voters trusted Huckabee on the issues. Now many are questioning the sanity or intelligence of those voters, but they made that decision. I don’t think the Republican party wants to emulate the attitude that many Democratic voters had after the last two presidential elections, where they complained about “Jesusland” and the stupidity of the heartland voters.
Now Republicans have one of two choices when faced with analyzing this data. They can go the Peggy Noonan route – respect the supporters and respectfully disagree with the candidate – or the path of many non-social-conservatives and make derogatory comments about religious people and Iowans. Taking the second route will not lead to good things for the Republican party.